News 7 december — 14:25

Jahangir Hajiyev’s arrest is just the beginning

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV

At last, it happened. Everybody was waiting for it, but it still seemed unbelievable until the very last moment. Former head of the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) Jahangir Hajiyev has been detained on swindling and economic crimes charges. He has been detained by Main Directorate of the Interiopr Ministry on fight against organised crime. Later on, at the decision of the Narimanov district court Jahangir Hajiyev has been arrested for a term of 4 months and transported to the special pre-trial prison No.1 in Kurdakhani. Hajiyev is charged under Article 178.3.2 (swindling with grand larceny) and Article 179.3.2 (peculation) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

From the very outset Azeri Daily detailed conditions and causes that led to bank’s miserable taking, possible consequences for the IBA and its management. Today we have to answer the main point: why have they dragged out so long with Hajiyev’s arrest and what is going to happen next?

Before giving answers to these questions, let’s look at how developments moved. 53-year old Hajiyev resigned from his post of IBA Chairman on March 18, 2015 ‘for health reasons.’ However, the public and, first of all, his acquaintances responded suspiciously to the formulation ‘for health reasons,’ especially as it occurred soon after the February manat devaluation. Yes, the head of the IBA and his brother-in-law, former head of the National Security Ministry Eldar Mahmudov, were suspected of transporting huge volumes of foreign currency abroad; however, this version was not officially confirmed. For one night, Jahangir Hajiyev and Eldar Mahmudov caused irreparable injury to the Azerbaijani economy to thus stirring up great excitement in the country.

Note that his resignation was followed by arrests of a number of IBA top officials and businessmen, who had earlier borrowed large credits but did not even think of repaying it. According to unofficial data, amount of unpaid credits at the IBA reached $ 6 billion. Even worse, many multi-million credits, as it turned out later, were given under no guarantees and pledges. That apology for the banker dished out credits as if he received money from rich ancestors. Similarly behaved the credit-oligarchs, who, after having received millions from their buddy Hajangir, caroused in the world’s most costly restaurants and shopping areas.

However, they bit off more than one could chew. Shortly after there followed arrests and interrogations. Former top officials of the IBA and businessmen with their huge unpaid credits were arrested. These were former director of the IBA Central Branch Ilqar Abdullayev, former director of the IBA transport department Kanan Orudjev, head of IBA office in Dubai Adil Huseynov, director general of Inter Security in charge of IBA administrative buildings Ibrahim Huseynov, chairman of supervisory board of Azerinshaatservis Arif Hasanov, deputy director of Trek İnvest and founder of Azerinshaatservis Ali Alishov, director of İnter Glass Fariz Muradov, etc.

However, the intrigue of the investigation was that high-handed oligarchs were arrested and interrogated by the Interior Ministry, while Hajiyev has been at large. Even better, rumours were afloat that he is untouchable even despite his resignation. Allegedly, country’s top leadership still trusted him and considered his advises and proposals; he was allegedly not guilty because he gave money to those he dared not refuse. And that he was allegedly entrusted to collect these money, discharge indebtedness and thus secure himself against punishment. It was reported that he had allegedly been promised to obtain high position, etc. However, it was difficult to establish the truth.

At any rate, during high society get-together – weddings, funeral repasts and festivities, Jahangir Hajiyev appeared together with his all-powerful brother-in-law – Eldar Mahmudov, who kept on preserving his power and status of country’s major bone-wrecker. On the contrary, Hajiyev resembled a nestling who hid himself beneath a wing of a big and inviolable eagle. To overemphasise his power, Eldar Mahmudov appeared in public together with the disgraced banker to thus demonstrate his power: behold, I am the true boss of the country! While I want it, nobody dares to hurt Jahangir.

However, there were other rumours, more feasible. They said that Hajiyev was demanded to redeem at the earliest possible term damages inflicted to the IBA and the state, and then appear in court. However, the fact was that Hajiyev remained at large. The public had no information even about interrogations at the Interior Ministry. But only until a certain time. Hajiyev was summoned to questioning that followed after the resignation of Eldar Mahmudov as the head of the Ministry of National Security on October 17. It transpired that the chief of the MNS was the main traitor. The chief bone-wrecker failed to overcome his blind fear and made a fatal error.

The former minister blocked in every possible means any attempts of investigative bodies to prosecute the former banker. Perhaps, Gen. Mahmudov will follow his relative? Unfortunately, we have no answers to these questions, though elementary logic suggests credibility of such a scenario in the nearest future. However, even if the greedy ex-security officer had been successful in impeding the investigation, Hajiyev’s stay at large until recently pursued an aim to return money stolen.

Regretfully, there is no official information about those implicated in the IBA crimes and credit debtors. Still, it is rumoured that a smaller part has been repaid – just $ 200 million. It is certain that Jahangir Hajiyev has not repaid a penny. Even better, a greater portion of credits was misappropriated by men of his omnipotent brother-in-law. And they have not paid a penny.

However, former banker’s potentialities are well known not only to investigation bodies but many people both in and outside the country. Thus, ten years ago a gang headed by a turnskin- policeman Haji Mamedov abducted banker’s wife Zamira to have a multi-million ransom for her release. Legends are afloat about scales of his movables/immovables; suffice it to mention a castle near London, which cost hundreds of millions of pounds. However, property excitement remains unchangeable even in these hard for the Hajiyevs days. Quite recently, his wife Zamira-khanum, notorious for her royal bearing and mode of life (at my and your expense!), ‘gave herself away’ when trying to purchase a costly immovable in Baku, this time. It is talked of a $ 8 million worth object!

Hence, Hajiyev has oodles of millions; yet, he is in no haste to wipe off scores. Strange it is: a bit of intellectual man, made a pile to the detriment of elementary banking rules but is currently unwilling to return money. Unwilling? So he must be forced to get out of the hole – the investigation is, perhaps, guided by this rule. Naturally, we have no right to accuse somebody of the crime prior to court decision; however, in everyday life the actions of this sort are called merely theft.

True, we are currently faced not with an ordinary theft but the expensive banking one. In any event, it is crucial to deal shortly with thieves. The ringleader is imprisoned, hence, the whole gang under the guise of bankers and oligarchs is to be smashed up.

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